Crystalline Aura – Chapter 13

Crystalline Aura
Oracle of Light
By Cil Gregoire
Alaska Sci-Fi Queen

Chapter 13

Taku dreamed that someone heard her pleading cries for help and sought to find her, sending soothing warmth to calm her deathly shivers. She woke with a start, her eyes opening wide despite the lack of light to enter them, and felt decidedly warmer. How could that be, she wondered, as her stomach growled angrily, wishing to be fed. Freeing her arms from the bodice of her dress, she attempted to sit up, bumping her head on the stone ceiling of the cave. Taku moaned silently, rubbing the spot that smarted. Then when the pain subsided some, she took a drink from the stream and patted some cold water on the bump on her head.

Was someone looking for her? Would she be found before she starved to death? The air in the cave did seem warmer. Was there magic at work here? Perhaps there were good spirits as well as evil ones, and a good spirit was trying to help her.


Aaron and Ilene paced the railroad platform waiting for the southbound train coming in from up the tracks. Instead of Aaron taking supplies to Half Ear up the tracks, Half Ear was coming back to town. The train was already way late, but Aaron and Ilene made good use of the time moving Ilene’s clothing and things back to her apartment above the gallery and tidying up Half Ear’s pad, even putting a casserole in the oven for their dinner as they listened for the train whistle, which would give them enough time to run down to the station and meet it.

Aaron wanted to take his painting of the crystal down and stash it by his sleeping area, but Ilene talked him into leaving it, for it really did spruce the place up. “Such a nice painting should be seen, not hidden,” she argued. With reluctance, he gave in.

It was warm and pleasant out, winter already forgotten, with the leafed-out forest sneaking in all around, filling in the spaces between lifeless man-made structures, tastefully obscuring them with living green. The train whistle blew again and again, filling the valley with its persistence. Then they could see the train rolling in slowly around the curve and through the shimmering forest toward the platform where it came to a stop. Half Ear, along with a few tourists, disembarked and headed for the baggage car where bags, boxes, and packs were handed down to the platform for claiming. Aaron and Ilene intercepted him, “Hi, there!”

Half Ear looked curiously at the two of them together and smiled, “Hi!”

“Do you have much baggage?” Aaron asked.

“Two packs, a couple of tents, and some camping gear. I figured now that it is summer, it might be time for us to go on another little camping trip together.”

“I wish I could go camping,” Ilene said, hoping to be invited along, but no one responded. The three of them carried the camping gear to Half Ear’s pad.

“So that is what the crystal looks like!” Half Ear said, pausing in mid-stride, as his gaze fell upon the painting gracing his living room wall. Half Ear dropped his pack down on the floor by the door without taking his eyes off the crystal as he walked toward the painting. The image of the crystal floated softly off the surface of the painting in greeting, glowing and twirling slowly. Then just as quickly it was back in the painting.

“Did you see that?” Ilene asked excitedly. She was sure he had.

“See what?” Half Ear asked, as though nothing had happened. She couldn’t believe he was denying it. In a huff Ilene headed for the kitchen to take the casserole out of the oven. Aaron, in fact, hadn’t seen a thing with Half Ear and Ilene obstructing his view.

Over dinner Aaron and Half Ear planned their camping trip. “We will camp on the southeast point of the creek’s north ridge, overlooking the big swamp. That’s still nearly a quarter of a mile from Rahlys’ cabin. We can go in the way we did before,” Half Ear explained, “or follow the creek, but if we follow the creek, we will have to pass right by her. It’s best not to be seen. So we might as well have the train drop us off where we hiked in before, a mile or so north of her trail. The woods will be easy hiking right now with the foliage still low to the ground. And with the nearly continuous daylight, we won’t be pushed for time to set up camp.”

“Take me camping with you, please,” Ilene begged. “I’m strong and a good hiker, and you guys will need a woman along to help out around the campsite.”

Aaron looked at Half Ear, “Can she come along?” He didn’t think there was a chance in hell that Half Ear would let a woman come along, but it wouldn’t hurt for Ilene to hear Half Ear’s response herself.

Half Ear considered for a moment, then surprised him by saying, “She will need her own tent.”

“But we already have two tents.”

“We will need three. I’m not sleeping with you either.”

“I can borrow a tent,” Ilene declared gleefully. “And I have a sleeping bag and a pack.”

Aaron had never seen her so excited about anything before. “What about the gallery?” he asked.

“Momma is coming back tomorrow. She can take care of the gallery for a while. When are we leaving?”

“We should be packed and ready to go by Thursday morning’s train,”

Half Ear said, and then he surprised them both by adding, “We will take the painting of the crystal with us.”


“You’ll see when the time comes.”

Thursday morning the three were packed and ready to go, pacing the railroad platform in front of the little depot. Ilene was more animated than usual, and almost unrecognizable, dressed in jeans, a shirt, and a light jacket for the woods. A baseball cap pressed down her frizzy hair. Aaron thought her more attractive dressed this way than in her usual skirts and blouses.

Their packs were filled to overflowing with food and camping gear. Sleeping bags, tents, and tools were secured to their pack frames. Ilene would carry the lightest pack, but she would also be responsible for carrying the painting which had been carefully wrapped, frame and all, in plastic sheeting, cardboard, and duct tape for its protection. A rope handle had been worked into the packaging for ease of carrying. Half Ear would not explain why he wanted to take it with them, but they figured they would find out eventually.

Finally the train was there and all their stuff was onboard. Ilene found a window seat looking out on the town, and Aaron sat next to her. Then Half Ear sat down on the seat across, facing them. Although Ilene had lived in hearing distance of the train all her life, and had watched it pass and stop at the platform thousands of times, she had never before ridden the train. No particular reason why, it just never happened. She could hardly believe that she was actually riding into the wilderness for an extended camping trip with Aaron and Half Ear. Ilene longed for adventure, and she sensed that something very unusual was underfoot. Her excitement mounted as the train wheels finally started turning slowly, moving the car forward.

“Going camping again, I see,” the conductor said cheerfully as he collected their tickets, and Half Ear gave him the mile post number. “All three of you?”

“Yes, thanks.”

The rest of the ride was in silence. Ilene stared out the window at greening swamps and hills, beaver ponds and forest, and the occasional spectacular vista of Denali and the mighty Susitna River. A couple of times the train stopped to let off passengers with packs and boxes. Before too long, it started to slow down again, and Ilene followed Half Ear to the exit. The train came to a stop, and Ilene and Half Ear descended the steps, hurried over to the baggage car where Aaron handed down their packs and the painting, and then climbed down to join them.

Ever so slowly, the train pulled away leaving them alone with the murmur of the river nearby, and the newly leafed forest whispering in the warm, gentle breeze. The forest beckoned quietly, greening warmly all around them. It was as sweetly inviting as a forest in a fairy tale. “This way,” Half Ear said once they were set and ready. Then Half Ear stepped away from the tracks and the river, and headed east into the woods. Aaron and Ilene followed.

Walking did prove to be easy enough. The tall, dense underbrush of mid-summer was not yet in full swing. There were the occasional fallen trees to clamber over, under, or around, and patches of still leafless devil’s club stalks covered with sharp spines to be avoided. Everywhere green plants were sprouting and bushes were leafing into a wild spring garden of herbs, flowers, grass, ferns, and berry bushes. Violets bloomed shyly through the sprouting foliage, and Ilene nibbled on the cucumber flavored tips of watermelon berry plants, as they hiked along.

When they came to a moist area abundant with newly emerged fiddlehead ferns, their spiraled heads still unfurled, Ilene and Aaron stopped and harvested some to go with dinner. Of course, by the time they finished Half Ear was out of sight, for he stopped and waited for no one, but they followed Half Ear’s track in the moist spring forest until they came to a ridge that ran from east to west. Aaron was sure that if they followed the ridge, keeping it to their right, they would come to the edge of the big swamp.

Although Half Ear was out of sight, Aaron seemed to know where they were going, so Ilene let him lead the way. She thought about the painting she was carrying, certain that Half Ear had seen the crystal move out of the painting and into the room. Why wouldn’t he admit it? It was not the first time, or even the second, she had seen it happen, but she hadn’t told anyone, because she feared no one would believe her. Now Ilene was certain that something strange was going on. “So that is what the crystal looks like,” Half Ear had said when he saw the painting for the first time, referring to the crystal as though he knew of its existence. And then Half Ear decided to take the painting with them! Surely it wasn’t just coincidence that they would be camping near the artist who painted it. What did Aaron know about all this that he wasn’t telling her? There was definitely something very unusual happening here, and sooner or later, she was going to get to the bottom of it. But she knew it would be to her advantage for now not to appear too inquisitive, so quietly she waited.


Rahlys awoke to bright morning sunshine filled with the promise of another beautiful spring day. She could not recall when she and the girl in the cave fell asleep. Is it all just a dream, or does someone really need my help? Is there really a girl trapped in a cave somewhere? The girl seemed to be real, but why couldn’t she reach the distressed signature while awake?

She was seeking a girl trapped in a cave, and for some reason she couldn’t pinpoint the girl’s location. That was all she knew, but Quaylyn had been teaching her a technique called journeying. With the help of the crystal, she could travel mentally, without physically leaving home. Droclum was probably journeying when he located her, Quaylyn had explained. That night, Rahlys conjured the softly glowing crystal to her hand. She didn’t know if journeying would help or not, but she had to try. Stretched out on her bed, she focused on her target as best she could, seeking in the direction she had mentally gone before. Then holding the crystal, Rahlys invoked her wish. Help me find the signature of the girl lost in a cave.

Immediately, the crystal faded from her hand, and Rahlys felt herself being tugged along with it, hurtling at great speed over mountain ranges and ocean, although she was certain she remained physically on her bed.

Where are you, girl in cave? I am here to help you, Rahlys called out. Why do you haunt my dreams so? Communicate with me now while I’m awake.

But there was no answer.

Then Rahlys felt the encroachment of unspeakable evil. Droclum is near, the Oracle warned.

Rahlys could sense Droclum’s foreboding signature as she soared over the coastal range. She had found him after all. The evil aura reached toward her, sucking her in!

Go back! Go back! Rahlys screamed, as her mind began to shudder. With all her will, she pulled back mentally. The crystal had already changed direction, dragging her away, but Droclum was still latched on. Then abruptly, she and the crystal were jerked back, and she found herself on her bed upstairs, with her head spinning, and someone standing over her.

Rahlys! Are you alright? She could hear Quaylyn’s thoughts and feel his concern through the pounding in her head.

I think so. As the pain subsided, she opened her eyes, grateful for the brief sub-arctic night; glaring light would have definitely grated on her charred senses. “What are you doing here?” she asked reverting to spoken language.

Quaylyn straightened, his anxiety over her easing, “I felt the invocation of powerful magic,” he explained, “and out of concern, I called up to you. When there was no response, I came up to check on you, and discovered you were journeying with the crystal. Then I heard your mental stress, and latched on to you, to help pull you back.”

So that was the jerk she had felt; she looked at the crystal in her hand and then at Quaylyn. “Thank you!” she said.

“So, what happened? Where did you go? I sensed Droclum’s signature.”

But Rahlys did not want to discuss it with him now. “I will tell you tomorrow when we are all together working on the guest cabin. For now, it is good night.”

Quaylyn knew he had been dismissed. “Good night, Guardian of the Light.” He bowed, and descended the stairs to his bed. After hearing him settle in, Rahlys fell into a deep sleep, undisturbed and restful, until early morning.

Then, as though in a dream, she heard again the mental pleas for help…It’s so dark…please help me…I can’t take the darkness any longer,…so hungry…please,…someone,…please, help me…and the girl’s heart-rendering sobs, void of hope and steeped in despair, could be felt racking her body and soul.

I am Rahlys; I am here to help you. Can you hear me? The sobs subsided as the signature absorbed the message.

I can hear you in my head, she replied tremulously, where are you?

I am far away still, but I may be able to help you. You must tell me all you can about where you are, and how you got there.

Taku could now recall her father since he appeared in her dream. She and her father had been on the fishing boat. They had come ashore in a quiet bay to wait out a storm, and then she had been whisked away by an evil spirit. She couldn’t remember what happened to her father, or even her name. But the evil spirit called himself Droclum. Rahlys felt the child shudder; so Droclum did have her!

The girl without a name described Droclum’s cavern, the stream passing through it, stones that glowed orange giving off a strange light, a large bed, stone table, and the dreadful mirror. She told how her warm clothing had been magically changed to a seductive red dress, but didn’t mention the diamonds she had discarded in the little stream that ran through her prison. But how was it possible for the girl to telepath out, when she couldn’t reach in, Rahlys wondered. How was she able to telepath at all?

Please, I am so hungry.

How did you learn to telepath?

What’s that?

Speaking as we are now.

I don’t know. I’ve never spoken this way with anyone but you.

Hold out your hand, I will try and send you an apple. Rahlys could sense Taku extending her hands in the darkness and hoped she could deliver; she still couldn’t get a solid fix on the girl. Now, I need you to help me. Try to conjure the apple to you as I send it your way. Are you ready?


Concentrating, Rahlys mentally snatched an apple from the bag in the root cellar and tossed it in the signature’s general direction. Rahlys felt the girl’s startled jerk when the apple landed in her outstretched hands. She sighed with relief at the girl’s sudden rush of joy, and her rapturous enjoyment over the first bite.

Then, like a door being slammed shut…the connection was gone.

Franklin relished Taku’s anguish. Her pain and suffering stimulated him into frenzied excitement, her slow tortuous dying a thing of beauty. He spent hours tuned in, soaking up her despair. Sometimes his imagination fast forwarded to her last weak breath and conscious thought, then to the slow deterioration of her flesh, along with the red dress, until all that remained was a pile of bones wearing a diamond necklace.

Forget the girl, we have work to do, the part of him that was Droclum demanded taking over his consciousness. For a time he was distracted, but days later when Franklin again focused on Taku’s signature, he found her hungry and in despair…although still very much alive. Then Droclum sensed the presence of the Guardian of Anthya’s Oracle journeying toward them, and wrenched Franklin’s attention away from the girl once more, directing all focus in pursuit of the sorceress.

He latched on to the Guardian of Light in a mental strong hold, pulling her in, until someone wrenched the sorceress from his grasp. But who? Droclum smoldered in thought. There was something familiar about the signature, but he just couldn’t place it. Who else would be capable of such magic? Certainly not Theon, his old crony from the past. Theon’s magic had never been that great even in his prime. Besides, Theon would be long dead by now. Once again the Guardian of Anthya’s Oracle had gotten away, and the thought enraged him. Then to add insult to injury, he discovered that the Guardian of Light had been in communication with the prisoner, right under his nose, using magic to keep her alive. How was that possible?

“The cloak, you fool; you put it on her,” Droclum roared from within. “Your magic is woven into it.”

In anger, Droclum conjured Taku to him. She appeared in the cavern at his feet, lying on her side, curled in a fetal position, a partially eaten apple clutched in her hand. The sudden return of light, and hence sight, came as a shock to her senses.

“Get up!” Droclum shouted in anger fueled by his wounded pride. As Taku stood, disoriented by light, her legs wobbly from cramped disuse, he violently knocked the apple out of her hand.

No, Taku cried out silently over her lost treasure, and attempted to dart after the precious fruit, now bashed and bruised on the stone floor, but Droclum conjured her back in front of him.

“Where is the necklace?” he roared. Taku couldn’t answer, but moments later she shrieked silently as the diamond necklace, chilled to icy cold in the subterranean stream, appeared heavily around her neck. Then with a whisk of his hand she and the red dress were clean and fresh. Droclum moved in closer.

“What’s her name?” he demanded.

Taku shivered in fear, not sure who the question referred to.

“The sorceress who has been helping you, what is her name?” he clarified. Taku staggered backward. The good spirit who was trying to help her was a sorceress? She had said her name was Rahlys, Taku remembered.

“Rahlys!” Droclum hissed, picking up on Taku’s thoughts.

Had he read her mind? How unfortunate, Taku lamented, for she knew that names held great power.

“Where is she?” Droclum pressed on. To Taku’s relief, she could not betray her benefactor this time for she had no clue as to her whereabouts. The girl knows nothing, Droclum quickly ascertained, but she is not without worth. I will use her as bait to bring Sorceress Rahlys to me. She will not escape from me a third time.

“How would you like to go on a little cruise?” he laughed sinisterly out loud. “I know just the cruise ship you should take. Bon voyage!” And with that, the cavern was gone.

Cold damp darkness enveloped her once again. Taku was standing barefooted on what felt like the deck of a fishing boat, with the sound of a waterfall in the background, and the smell of fishing nets in the air.


Rahlys awoke to sunlight streaming in, and the sound of Vince and Maggie chattering excitedly with Quaylyn outside her window. How late is it, she wondered?

“Wake up, Sleepy Head!” Maggie called up to her. “You’re two hours late for work.”

“I’m coming,” Rahlys called out her bedroom window, feeling a great need to be in the light, to be out in the sun. Bright warm sunshine drenched her as she stepped outside, and she thought of the young girl in Droclum’s clutches, imprisoned in darkness. The thought weighed on her heavily, while all around her the forest quivered with emerging green leaves and sprouting underbrush in the warm spring sunshine. She summoned Raven and joined the group sitting on the porch in the sun. She wanted Raven there when she shared what she had to tell.

“Good afternoon, Rahlys, Guardian of the Light!” Quaylyn greeted her. If he was upset over her curt dismissal last night, he didn’t show it; at least he hadn’t taken off again.

“Good afternoon,” Rahlys returned, not without some contrition for oversleeping. “How’s the work going on the guest cabin?”

“Work? On a beautiful day like this?” Even Vince had been struck with spring fever. Rahlys meditated peacefully in the sunshine, along with the rest. Then Raven circled overhead and landed near the steps.

“Klawock, klawock!” he greeted them.

“I have something I want to tell you,” Rahlys began right away. It was apparent that Quaylyn had filled them in on some things, for they all stared at her attentively. “A few nights ago I mentally picked up moans and cries of delirium and despair in my sleep, but I couldn’t locate the source. The following night it happened again, and I managed to communicate a little telepathically with a young girl trapped in a cave and in danger of dying from hypothermia. I couldn’t latch on to her physical location, but strangely enough, I was able to soothe her across the distance with an aura of warmth that restored her dropping body temperature. Three times I have managed to pick up on her subconscious pleas for help, but only when I’m in a dream state. I have consciously searched for her, but I cannot find her. So last night I went journeying with the crystal, to use Quaylyn’s terminology, in search of her…and I found Droclum instead.”

“What?” Vince jumped at Quaylyn, “I thought you were here to help protect her!”

“I was not consulted,” Quaylyn spoke up in his own defense. “When I sensed the use of strong magic, I went up to check on her, and helped pull her back.”

Vince looked toward Rahlys for confirmation, but did not apologize when he realized he had spoken in haste.

“You found Droclum?” Maggie asked to put things back on track.

“Or rather he found me,” Rahlys said, “traipsing in his territory. The crystal gave the warning, and helped me pull back, but it was Quaylyn who finished bringing us in.”

“So where is Droclum?” Vince asked.

“In a cavern somewhere deep beneath the coastal mountains of Southeast Alaska. The young girl I have been in communication with, has described the cavern to me. Droclum is holding her prisoner in a small cave.”

“Aaaark!” the raven responded. The rest of the group looked at her in astonishment.

“Oh, how horrible! The poor girl,” Maggie said sadly.

“Last night, or rather, early this morning, I picked up the girl’s distress cries again. She’s starving. I tried repeatedly to grab her mentally and pull her out, but I just can’t reach her. I did manage to send her an apple though. Now how that was possible, I do not know.”

“Who is this girl?” Vince asked.

“I don’t know. The last thing she remembers, before Droclum took her captive, is being on her father’s fishing boat, but she can’t remember her name, or what happened to her father. She has been raped and imprisoned in total darkness in this tiny cave without food or warm clothing.”

“So you have been keeping her alive by cloaking her in warmth and providing her food. What about water?” Maggie asked.

“She describes a small stream that runs through the cave through fissures in the rock, but there is no opening large enough for a person to pass through.”

“So why don’t you just teleport her out?” Vince asked.

“I’ve told you, I’ve tried, but I just can’t get a clear enough fix on her, to do so. I was quite surprised when I managed to send her an apple. I haven’t been able to sense her at all when I’m awake. That is why I was journeying with the crystal. If I could locate her, I could rescue her.”

“Are you sure this captive of Droclum is real, and not just a dream? Or worse yet…a trap?” Vince questioned.

“I am convinced that the signature I’ve been in contact with, and the despair and anguish attached to it, is real. The worst of it is, as soon as I sent the apple our connection was abruptly cut off, as though our communication had been detected and blocked against our will.”

Quaylyn had remained quiet through all this, neither asking questions, nor commenting. Now the rest of the group looked toward him for answers. “When I first arrived here,” Quaylyn said, “I sensed the protective shield Rahlys had put in place to prevent Droclum from locating you. That spell is signature specific. For instance, it didn’t block me from locating you. It would be safe to assume that Droclum has also thought to put in place spells that prevent Rahlys from surprising him in what he considers his terrain. That is probably what is preventing her from reaching the girl. But apparently there is nothing in place blocking the girl from reaching out, and inadvertently it seems, she has subconsciously sent out mental waves of distress that Rahlys has been able to detect. I’m only assuming here, but the girl must have come into contact with something of magic that has awakened her telepathic abilities in much the same way that the crystal has affected the rest of you, something that Droclum has worked his magic into. When the girl sent out telepathic waves, it opened a channel through which Rahlys could transmit a spell of warmth and even send food, but we can be certain, now that Rahlys has been detected both journeying with the crystal, and tampering with his prisoner…that channel is now closed.”

“We can’t just let Droclum have his way with this girl,” Rahlys pleaded. “We must find a way to rescue her.”

“Just what do you expect us to do?” Vince asked.

“I don’t know, but we have to think of something.”

The group gazed upon the greening forest in silence as they tried to absorb all that had been said, and come up with a suitable plan. When ideas were not rapidly forthcoming, Vince proposed another course of action. “So where exactly do you want that guest cabin?” Vince asked Rahlys. “We might as well be working on it while we’re thinking of a plan to rescue this girl and defeat Droclum.”

The group made quick work of clearing an area of ground several yards into the woods east of Rahlys’ cabin, where a stack of logs, harvested earlier, were ready to put on the walls. Maggie and Rahlys cleared small brush with a Swede saw, hatchet, and magic, stacking the brush, while Vince and Quaylyn dealt with a couple of larger trees, bucking them up for firewood. Soon the site was cleared and the four of them, each at a corner, were squaring off the foundation with string, wooden stakes, and a tape measure. Then Vince marked off the spots where the foundation posts would go, including those in the center, and started digging.

“How big of a hole are you digging?” Quaylyn asked.

“Oh, about this wide, and about this deep,” Vince indicated with his hands, and went back to work scratching at the hard-packed, rocky soil. It was hard work, and slow going. After some time, Vince paused, leaning on his shovel to check on Quaylyn’s progress, and was astonished by what he saw. Eight perfectly formed and precisely located holes dotted the site with a pile of excavated dirt and rocks next to each one, and a rather exhausted Quaylyn stretched out on a grassy spot of ground, his arms behind his head. Only the foundation post hole that Vince was working on remained incomplete.

“Aaarrk, Aaarrk!” The raven flew over projecting an image of a passenger train weaving through the woods.

“The train!” Quaylyn cried out in delight. Jumping up, he teleported himself to the edge of the woods to watch the Aurora Express breeze by, carrying visitors from around the world between Fairbanks and Anchorage. Quaylyn stepped out from the cover of the woods and waved to the passengers. Many waved back, wondering where he had appeared from out in the middle of nowhere.

By the time Quaylyn returned to the building site, the group had stopped for lunch. Even Raven flew in to join the picnic. Over lunch they brainstormed ideas for a plan to rescue Droclum’s captive.

“I’m still unable to make further contact with the girl,” Rahlys said.

“Even if you did make contact with her again, you can be certain she is bait in a trap,” Vince said.

“Vince is right. Even if you do find her, you can’t just go to her knowing Droclum is lying in wait,” Maggie agreed. “We need a plan.”

“When we face Droclum, we must be prepared to fight. And we still don’t know what role Half Ear, or rather Theon, is playing in this. Perhaps I should confront him?” Vince said, his face lined with apprehension.

“We need to penetrate Droclum’s protective shield without him knowing it. It would be nice to have the element of surprise on our side,” Rahlys said.

“There may be a way,” Quaylyn said. “Creative magic has no limit. Or rather, it is limited only by the imagination and ability of its creator, sort of like writing a novel,” he said indicating Vince…“or creating a painting…or raising a New Person,” he said nodding with reverence toward Maggie, for it had become known that Maggie and Vince were expecting a baby.

“You must continue to diligently train in drawing increasingly greater force to use against Droclum,” Quaylyn said to Rahlys. “You are at least as strong as he is. You didn’t really need me to rescue you when you were journeying with the crystal, you were already on your way back. I just speeded up your return. You would have made it back without me. Droclum is also gaining strength though, and it is important that you keep the upper edge.”

When Vince announced that he would have to go into town to get spikes, dry cement mix, and other building supplies to continue on the cabin building project, Quaylyn jumped to his feet, asking to go with him. “You should take Quaylyn with you so he can see a bit of the world beyond these woods,” Maggie coaxed. “You wouldn’t even have to take the train. The two of you could teleport to the house in town, drive the truck into Wasilla, pick up a few groceries and the building supplies we need, drive back, then teleport yourselves and the supplies back up here, all in one day.” But Vince wasn’t comfortable with the idea. So far, they were the only humans that Quaylyn had had contact with.

“What if he did something strange in public, drawing attention to us,” Vince worried. “Think of the consequences?” But Maggie wasn’t buying it.

“Ride in a truck! Shop in a store! See people and roads and traffic! Vince, I promise you no one will know that I am not from this world. I will speak only when necessary, say as little as possible, and do as you do.”

Seeing Quaylyn’s yearning desire to explore and experience their world, Vince knew he would have to give in. “You can come, but… no magic! From the moment we arrive at my place in town to the moment we teleport back here, there is to be absolutely no use of magic. An inexplicable occurrence of any kind, no matter how minimal, will draw attention.”


“Believe me, our world is not ready for you,” Vince added.

“The Runes of the High Council agree with you,” Quaylyn replied.

“What are the Runes of the High Council?” Rahlys asked, not willing to let the opportunity to ask slip by again.

Quaylyn hesitated before answering. The books he had read from Vince’s library bespoke of a chaotic world. How could he explain so they would understand? “The Runes are the nemesis of Chaos,” he said. “Long ago…that is long ago even to me…there were three great and powerful masters who foresaw the fall of our society due to rampant greed and corruption. Society had already broken down into social strata. Magic and the arts floundered, and lawlessness abounded. The three great wizards were wise, but despite their great wisdom, they didn’t know how to fix what was wrong. As political, social, and economic systems continued to fail, the wizards feared the world would be thrown into darkness, so came up with a plan to turn things around. Pooling their powers, they wrought a great oval table from the purest crystal. With their combined strength, they drew in the wisdom and power of the elemental forces and worked together on a spell to aid the Councilors in making wise, impartial decisions for the greater good of all the people. With the power of the Runes of the elemental forces, they etched into the table the runic symbols for crystal, water, fire, sun, soil, air, moon, and void.

“When the Councilors meet at the Crystal Table, the Runes not only access the ideas Councilors bring to the table, but foresee to some extent the path of consequences that would occur if these ideas were implemented, thus directing them into making the wisest decisions. The position of Councilor is a highly exalted one. Only the most compassionate, wisest, and most selfless are chosen.”

“You let some old magic spell run your lives?” Vince asked.

“We tap wisdom for the greater good of all.”

The next morning Vince and Quaylyn teleported to Vince’s place in town. While Vince puttered around the house, Quaylyn peered out the windows as though he were looking out on forbidden territory. To him, there was much to see. A car passed on the road out front, and a family of four got out of a camper trailer parked down the street and walked away. A dog came into the yard, then left again. When Vince led Quaylyn out the door, a small plane flew fairly low overhead as they walked to Vince’s pick-up truck parked in the driveway.

Looking up at the airplane instead of forward, Quaylyn bumped into the parked truck before focusing on it. But when he did look down, it was love at first sight. Quaylyn caressed the truck with his hands, feeling the contours of its body, noting the intricacies of its parts. He climbed into the seat next to Vince, studying the details of the truck’s dashboard and interior, and sighed exquisitely when Vince turned the key in the ignition, bringing the engine to life. Mechanical devices used for transportation were particularly fascinating to Quaylyn.

Quaylyn sat in utter fascination as Vince drove. It was his first glimpse of this world beyond their tiny, woodsy community. Here there were roads, buildings, and vehicles full of people. They passed cars, trucks, buses, campers, and trailers hauling boats and ATVs. When they passed their first semi on the highway, Quaylyn’s excitement was uncontrollable. Why would a man with no actual need for mechanical means of transportation, be so infatuated by such, Vince wondered.

When they stopped at a gas station to fuel up, Vince wouldn’t let Quaylyn out the truck for fear of what he might do out of zealous curiosity, but when they arrived at the building supply center, Vince knew he could not confine Quaylyn to the truck, and fearing the worse, allowed him to follow him into the store. But Vince need not have worried, for Quaylyn looked without touching, spoke not a word, and did nothing to draw attention to himself. He walked casually throughout the store, looking at everything and bothering no one. Fortunately, the store clerks were all too busy to offer him help. He passed by people, eyes downcast, not making any eye contact. When Vince was finished with his purchases, Quaylyn followed him out the door. No one had the faintest idea an alien had walked amongst them.

“How was that?” Quaylyn asked as they got back into the truck and headed for the loading bay to pick up their merchandise.

“That was fine.”

The stop at the supermarket was just a little more challenging. Having come from an agricultural community, Quaylyn raised many questions about food. There were quite a few items down the aisles that didn’t seem to meet his criteria as substances to eat. Only the fresh produce, nuts, beans, and grains actually registered. When he wanted to know what was in some of the bags and boxes, Vince pointed out the ingredients listed on the packaging.

Prices and the concept of money for food also puzzled him. “Don’t people have to buy food where you come from?’ Vince asked.

“No,” Quaylyn said. “Enough food is produced to feed everyone, and everyone is fed. There is no money involved.”

“What about greed?” Vince asked.

“You mean like Droclum?”

“I take it there aren’t a lot of power-hungry tyrants where you come from.”

“Droclum did have followers,” Quaylyn replied.

When Vince had found all the items on the shopping lists Maggie and Rahlys had provided, and Quaylyn was certainly no help, they headed for the checkout stand. On a whim, Vince added an Anchorage newspaper to the cart. Maybe there would be mention of someone missing that would serve as a clue to the identity of Droclum’s prisoner.

“How are you doing today?” the clerk asked rudimentarily.

“Good,” Vince and Quaylyn responded as one. They stood around in silence as the groceries were scanned and bagged, then pushed their cart out of the store toward the parking lot.

Coming from the opposite direction, a little boy slipped from his mother’s hand and took off running into the traffic lane, headed right in front of an oncoming car. The mother screamed. Quaylyn responded instantly, mentally grabbing the tiny tot and relocating him back within range of his mother’s grasp. The car passed by harmlessly.

Grabbing up her child in her arms, the mother wept abundant tears of joy. “It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle!” she cried over and over.

“Sorry,” Quaylyn whispered to Vince. He had broken the cardinal rule, no magic.

“It’s alright. I’ve seen enough mothers grieving over their dead children to last a life time. Just keep walking.”

The woman drew a small crowd in front of the store as she told her story, but no one especially noticed or associated Quaylyn in any way with the incident. They loaded their groceries into the truck and pulled out of the parking lot heading north toward home.

I was born in New Orleans, grew up in the Louisiana swamp, and then settled in Alaska as a young woman. After decades of living the Alaska dream, teaching school in the bush, commercial fishing in Bristol Bay and Norton Sound, and building a log cabin in the woods, life had provided me with plenty to write about. The years of immersion in the mystique and wonder, and challenges and struggles, of living in remote Alaska molded my heart and soul. It is that deep connection I share with my readers.